Caesar Rodney High’s girls’ soccer team has waited a year to get another chance at winning a state title.
On Monday, Mother Nature figured the Riders wouldn’t mind waiting one more day.
Monday’s forecast for severe weather in the evening — which ended up being accurate — caused the postponement of the DIAA’s girls’ soccer state championship doubleheader.
The twinbill will now be played Tuesday night at Smyrna High.
In Division II, third-seeded Indian River (15-3) will face top-seeded Caravel (15-1-1) at 5 p.m. with second-seeded Caesar Rodney (16-1-1) playing top-seeded Padua (16-0-1) at approximately 7 p.m.
Kevin Charles, the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association executive director, made the call to postpone the two games around noon on Monday. He admitted he normally doesn’t like to make decisions like that based solely on forecasts.
“We are making the change early in hopes that everyone can have a more enjoyable experience (Tuesday) tomorrow night,” Charles wrote in an email. “Of course we all know this means that it probably won’t rain a drop in Smyrna tonight, but I’d rather play it safe for everyone involved.”
As for the games themselves, CR is playing in its fifth state finals since 2007. The Riders are 0-4 in those games, including three losses to the Pandas.
A year ago, Padua topped CR, 3-1, in the title game. The last time the Riders beat Padua was a 4-3 victory in the 2010 state semifinals.
Both CR and the Pandas will be without their top players. The Riders lost Alexa Faulmino while Padua lost Karlina Panella to similar knee injuries during the regular season.
Ironically, both players are heading to the University of Delaware on scholarships.
Panella, the state Gatorade Player of the Year, scored twice iin the Pandas’ 5-1 victory over CR on April 18.
“Panella plays incredibly hard on both sides of the ball,” Dover Paul Booton said about Panella earlier this spring. “She sees the field so well, and everything goes through her. She’s the engine of that team.”
Padua’s one tie this season was a 1-1 deadlock with Caravel. The three-time defending state champion Pandas’ own a 19-game unbeaten streak against Delaware schools.
Against a Padua program that has won five state crowns since 2006, CR coach Darrell Gravatt said his players will give it their best shot.
“We’ve battled them tooth and nail,” said Gravatt. “We’ve been right there — everything but a win. We’ve had some close loses.”
“They’re good but we’re also good,” said Riders’ senior forward Janiah Moore. “So it’s kind of even. We’re two good teams so somebody’s going to come out on top.”
The storyline is pretty similar in Division II where Henlopen Conference Southern Division champion IR is looking for its first state title against defending state champion Caravel. The Bucs’ lone loss this year was a 2-1 setback to Sussex Tech on April 27.
The Indians lost to the Ravens, 3-1, in their next game, on April 30.
“For us to be in the position is huge and for me it’s a matter of keeping everybody on an even keel,” said IR coach Steve Kilby.
Tough ending for Dover
Dover High’s 9-4 loss to eventual state champion Appoquinimink in the baseball state semifnals on Thursday was another tough ending for the Senators.
In its quest to reach the state championship game for the first time since 1973, Dover has now lost in the semis for three straight years.
The Senators have gone an impressive 47-16 in that three-season span, including a 6-3 record in the state tournament. They’ve made the tourney six years in a row.
Dover had 11 seniors on this year’s roster. The Senators beat the Jaguars, 5-2, on April 18.
“I knew this was going to be tough,” coach Dave Gordon said after the loss to Appo. “I told my dad I felt like this was the championship. Not to take away from those other teams, but when we played in April, it felt like a state playoff game.”
Healy keeps winning
Bob Healy has put together a pretty impressive resume with the Salesianum boys’ lacrosse program.
The former Dover High coach led the Sals to their sixth state title since 2007 when they beat Cape Henlopen, 16-5, on Saturday.
Over the last seven seasons, Sallies is now 111-14. And the Sals have lost just twice to instate schools in that span — to Cape (2014) and Tower Hill (‘10) in state finals.
The 43-year-old Healy and assistant coach Shawn Plews are Wesley College football assistants who teach in Dover’s Capital School District.
“Winning this is really a life-changing experience,” Healy said after Saturday’s win. “It’s an amazing feeling. For these kids, it’s something they can never take away from them.”
In what may have been a first, Henlopen Conference schools made the state finals in all six spring team sports this year. That includes baseball (Cape Henlopen), softball (Polytech),
boys’ lacrosse (Cape), girls’ lacrosse (Cape, Polytech), Division I girls’ soccer (CR) and Division II girls’ soccer (IR). ... Billy Cunningham, who coached Appo to a 10-2 victory over Cape in the baseball finals on Saturday, is a former Viking player. He was a member of the Cape team that reached the state semifinals in 2005. ... The Blue-White All-Star Lacrosse Games are slated for June 10 at Polytech. The girls’ game is at 6 p.m. with the boys’ contest at 8 p.m.